HIGHLAND | If Friday night was any indication, opposing defensive coordinators are going to have to take plenty of Tylenol while game planning for West Side's passing attack this season.
To no one's surprise, the Cougars displayed their flashy and potent aerial game early and often in Friday's scrimmage. Quarterback Ramone Atkins, the state's No. 1 returning passer, tossed two touchdowns to wide receiver Jon'Vea Johnson during West Side's first 15-play offensive possession.
Ohio State recruit Lonnie Johnson also got in on the action during West Side's first goal-line series, hauling in a score in the left corner of the end zone on a perfectly thrown ball from Atkins.
“We saw it last year, and hopefully it's just a better rendition this year,” West Side coach Jason Johnson said. “Our issue is going to be offensive line play and tackling the (ball carrier). If we do those two things, we're going to be a pretty tough night for anybody.”
Highland stuck to the traditional ground game and found room to run during its first offensive possession. The Trojans didn't attempt a pass, but did find pay dirt twice on a 1-yard run from quarterback Hunter Rycerz and a 60-yard final play scamper from Matt Holl – breaking a few tackles in the process.
Part of that ability to break tackles is due to Holl being stronger and faster than last season, according to coach Trent Grider. Team strength and speed is also better all around.
“Between the three strength coaches we've had this year, we feel really blessed with how our team has responded,” Grider said. “Plus, we've got (22) seniors.”
West Side had 56 players at the scrimmage, including four players from basketball and four from track. One of those basketball players is Christian Jacobs, a 6-foot-6 receiver who made a nice touchdown catch during a reserve play late in the scrimmage.
“Our depth is based on the four basketball and four track kids we've got,” Johnson said. “All the other programs are starting to pitch in, and it's becoming that old school athletic community.”
West Side will face Hobart to open the season, a team the Cougars have never beat. Last season, the Brickies routed the Cougars 55-14.
“I want to get them back and show them what we're made of,” Atkins said.